The Drifting Classroom [Hyôryu kyôshitsu] (1987)

Some movies just leave you asking what they were thinking.

Take The Drifting Classroom, for example.  This is a movie which hasn’t been seen much outside of Japan — and I really don’t know how hard they tried to market it here — but it is mostly in English, with burnt-in Japanese subtitles.

It is set in an international school in Kyoto, which does give them an excuse for the English.  However, that doesn’t really explain why the kids spontaneously break into complex song and dance numbers.

Again, this is a movie with a huge cast of children, and a strong children’s film vibe about it — like those songs — which also features a lot of onscreen deaths, a strikingly gory scene or two, a flash of underaged nudity, some pretty intense monster mayhem, a bit of violence, and a very downbeat ending.  I can’t imagine just what the market for this one was meant to be.  I wouldn’t take my family to see it.

Troy Donahue (one of the two actors The Simpson’s “actor Troy McClure” is based on) gets a major part — and then just vanishes with out warning.  Or explanation.  Nearly everyone in this film dies.  Which, I suppose, is a spoiler, but you’ll have a hard time finding this one anyway.

Now a Japanese movie based on a Manga is no great surprise, but most of the adaptations haven’t been of this sort of rather surreal and indefinite sort of story, no matter how common they are.

We do get an impressive sequence that leads to their arrival in a barren wasteland, some giant bugs and a friendly green critter which are all well enough done.  However, it does get rather obvious at times that the view out the windows is very shaky.

The one thing I can say for certain about this one is that the underlying theme is about children growing up and leaving their parents behind.  Which is more or less what literally happens here with a “time slip” that carries an entire school away — and not just the single classroom the title suggests.

So file it under “curiosity” — and don’t feel too bad if you can’t find it.


And check out our new Feature:

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!

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